Goal setting – the good, the bad and the ugly

The Good.

The internet seems to be besieged with articles about goal setting. So why am I adding to them? Goal setting is one of the most useful ways to help you achieve what you want.

Setting goals should be a positive and motivational way of helping you move forward on any project where you want to achieve a successful outcome.

Decades of research show that setting goals can increase people’s performance. However as anyone that has made a new year’s resolution or has decided on an action plan of some sort, eat healthy, lose weight, stop smoking knows, they don’t always work.

Unless you are completely new to the idea of goal setting it is likely that at some point you will have come across ‘S.M.A.R.T” – goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

Although having goals and goal setting is important they are perhaps better viewed as a mechanism to get you closer to your overall aims.

The Bad.

Sometimes they just don’t seem to work. We get stuck, feel unmotivated by them and they can sometimes seem unachievable.  There are several reasons why this may be so.

  1. Too Many. If you set yourself too many goals, the chances are that you will focus on the easy ones ignoring the difficult ones even if they are more important. This means that your overall aim can suffer and lead to a lack of motivation.
  2. Too Specific. Although the S.M.A.R.T model encourages specificity don’t get bogged down in the detail of specific goals always keep sight of your overall aim.
  3. Too hard. Goals should be achievable. You should not have to resort to extreme measures in order to reach them. Stretch goals can be de-motivating so if your goal seems too hard why not try to break it down into smaller goals or have a re think about where it fits into your overall aim.
  4. Too Soon. Try to encourage yourself to think long term. Short term goals are often successful but they need to be repeated. A great example of this is something I read recently on Psyblog, – the reason it’s so hard to get a cab on a rainy day in New York is partly because cabbies do such good business that they go home early, having met their daily target.

The Ugly.

So your goals are specific but not so much that you lose sight of your overall aim. They are achievable without you resorting to extreme measures. You know when they should be completed by and you haven’t made too many.  So why aren’t you achieving them?

The number one reason why people don’t succeed in achieving their goals is lack of commitment. Sometimes this is as simple as the goal that we have set ourselves is not congruent with our overall aim so it is worth revisiting the bigger picture of what you want to achieve.

Tell other people about your goal, I mentioned in my previous blog, peer pressure works and increases motivation.

Record your progress. Often we forget how far we have come in achieving our goals. Keeping a record of your progress it can be a  fantastic motivator.

Reward yourself for your progress, as our brains work on the principle of moving us towards pleasure and away from pain even small rewards will move us forward to much greater success.

Think about what will happen once you achieve your goal. Focusing on the future and the steps you need to take to achieve it makes us more likely to take action.

Goal setting.

Goals should be motivational and have personal meaning. When you think about achieving them you should feel positive. We would love to hear how you get on so drop us a line and we will share your goals and achievements on line.